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Pope’s Videomessage to Argentine Conference on Mercy

‘I can feel pity in face of a wounded animal or a situation, but mercy is another sentiment; it is when the other’s misery, or a situation of grief or misery, enters my heart and I let that situation touch my heart.’

Below is the Vatican-provided transcription of the videomessage Pope Francis sent Saturday to participants of the “Manos Abiertas” (Open Hands) gathering in Santa Fe, Argentina. In 1992, Jesuit Father Angel Rossi founded the voluntary association on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, with the motto: “To love and to serve,” and the theme of their encounter this year was “mercy: a journey from the heart to the hands:”

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Dear Friends of “Open Hands,”

You are gathered in this National Meeting whose theme is “Mercy, a Trip from the Heart to the Hands.” We take two texts from the Gospel: when the Good Samaritan finds that man on the road, the Gospel says he felt compassion in his heart and then got off his horse, touched <the man> and cared for him; his compassionate heart led him to do a job with his hands. Another scene of the Gospel talks about Jesus, at the gate of the city of Naim, who sees the funeral cortege of the young son of a widowed mother, and the mother following it, and He feels compassion for that mother <who is left> alone. He approached her and said to her: “Do not weep,” and His hands began to act. He then touched the coffin and said: “Young man, arise” — a trip from the heart to the hands. Jesus is like this, so the Gospel teaches us: to act but from the heart.

The heart of the Good Samaritan as well as that of Jesus was touched by misery: the misery He saw there, the misery of that widowed mother that Jesus saw, the misery of that grief, the misery of that beaten man that the Samaritan saw. The heart united with the misery of the other, and that is mercy. When the other’s misery enters my heart I feel mercy, which is not the same as to feel pity; pity is another sentiment. I can feel pity in face of a wounded animal or a situation, but mercy is another sentiment; it is when the other’s misery, or a situation of grief or misery, enters my heart and I let that situation touch my heart. I would say: it’s the one-way trip, the trip of misery to the heart. And this is the way: there is no mercy unless the heart is broken, a heart wounded by another’s misery, because of another’s painful situation; <it is> a heart that lets itself be wounded. To have good sentiments is different, it’s not mercy, it’s good sentiments.

To engage in philanthropy with one’s hands is different, it’s not mercy, it’s good, it’s good, it’s not bad to engage in philanthropy, but it isn’t mercy, it’s something else. Mercy is that one-way trip from misery to my heart, assumed by my heart, which moves my heart and that sometimes moves it in such a way that the heart is like a compass in the North Pole, which doesn’t know where it is standing because of what it’s feeling.

Of course, some of you might ask me: How can one have mercy and not pity? Well, first one has to ask for the grace to have mercy; it is a grace, and it must be asked for from the Lord. But the only way to have mercy is through one’s acknowledged sin forgiven by the Lord, through admitted and forgiven sin. One can only be merciful if one has truly felt the Lord’s mercy, otherwise one cannot be merciful. If you feel that your sin is assumed, forgiven, forgotten by God, you are merciful, and from having experienced mercy you will be able to be merciful. If mercy doesn’t come from your heart, it isn’t mercy.

And the return trip begins here. If the one-way trip was to let my heart be wounded by others’ misery, the stable trip in my heart is to acknowledge my sin, my misery, my lowness, and feel myself forgiven by the Lord’s mercy, then the return trip begins, from the heart to the hands. And thus the path goes from my misery that has received mercy, to the misery of the other; from my misery loved by God, to the love of the other’s misery; from my misery loved in my heart, to its expression with my hands, and that is mercy. Mercy is a trip from the heart to the hands. What do I do, do I open my hands or my heart? Both things. Let your heart be wounded by misery, by that of others and by your own; Allow yourself to experience mercy and begin the return trip, and with your hands have mercy for others, lavishing mercy and love.

May God bless you and make you have a fecund meeting, fruitful for the whole community of “Open Hands.” And, please, don’t forget to pray for me.

[Original text: Spanish] [Translation by ZENIT]

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